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5601 Arnold Road, Suite 400

Dublin, Ca 94568

December 15, 2009

MEMORANDUM TO: William J. Hoover


Deputy Director
Washington, D.C.

FROM: Vincent A. Cefalu


Special Agent
Senior Operations Officer

SUBJECT: Grievance

1. This is a presentation under the Bureau’s administrative grievance procedure.

2. The matter that aggrieves me occurred on December 1, 2009, and is described in detail as
follows:

On November 30, 2009 I received a copy of a response to Acting Director Melsons plea
for open communication that had been posted on a prominent website. I felt it was
professionally written, tactful and completely relevant to the Directors request. The
Directors request was publicly posted in the ATF news letter. I requested through the
Ombudsman’s Office, specifically Marianne Ketels that this response to the Director be
forwarded to him for review and/or consideration. What occurred next was disturbing and
outrageous.

I am attaching the result of my request to Ms. Ketels and Ms. Cunningham. I have
requested such action in the past and Ms. Ketels has complied with this practice.
However, this time, based on some unknown and unexplained philosophy, my
presumably confidential request was forwarded to the office of Chief Counsel. This not
only violated the Ombudsman’s own by laws and mission statement but completely
destroys the credibility of the Office and directly undermined the Directors wishes. To be
clear, nothing contained in the posted letter to director Melson in anyway referenced,
suggested, inferred or even implied that it was in any way related to any of my personal
disputes with the Bureau. There were no legal issues related to me or my dispute.

The actions of Chief Counsel can only be construed as retaliatory and abusive of their
office and authority. Ms. Bouman then forwarded my communications to my private
attorney who subsequently billed me for legal services for having to respond to this
internal, neutral, confidential communication. I am not disputing Ms. Ketels attempt to
short stop the truth. I am grieving her inability to communicate with employees in the
field without involving Chief Counsel. The following clearly shows the blatant abuse
contained as the subject of this grievance. This is a direct quote taken from the
Ombudsman’s homepage:
“The Office of the Ombudsman has a twofold mission”.” As independent neutrals, they assist
employees in resolving work-related concerns fairly and equitably in an informal manner”. “As
confidential neutrals, they oversee and direct various support groups”. “It is important to note
that every employee has a right to contact the Ombudsman at any time and without anyone's
permission”. “The Ombudsman operates independent of other ATF offices and reports to the
Director”. “It is the duty of the Ombudsman to make the Director aware of any systemic
problems that may adversely affect the mission of the Bureau”.

As you can see, none of the above bolded print was adhered to and in fact was violated blatantly.
Ms. Ketels may not have been required to oblige my request to openly communicate with the
Director, but she could have conveyed that without involving counsel or any other outside entities.
I have researched the Bureaus grievance policy and I am filing this grievance one level above
anyone who is the subject of the grievance but at the lowest level to seek relief. According to Ms.
Ketels representations, she reports directly to you. The attachment is a chronological history of
the email communications supporting this grievance. Although I am not required to do so, I have
provided the SFFD SAC a copy of this grievance for informational purposes.

3. The personal relief I seek is:

 That the Ombudsman’s mission statement be amended to show more clearly that the
Ombudsman’s Office does not report directly to the Director as it was originally
designed to do. That in fact, they report to the Deputy Director. (See attached emails).

 That the Ombudsman’s Office be advised that they are in violation of their own stated
policies and that in the future, they be prohibited from violating the neutrality and
confidentiality clauses of their mission. That absent clear and compelling legal liability
to the Bureau, that the Ombudsman’s Office be prohibited from sharing employee
concerns to Chief Counsel without that employees concurrence.

 That any billable fees associated with Ms. Ketels and Ms. Boumans actions be
refunded to me.

 That the original communication is provided to the Director/Deputy Director Melson


as a legitimate response to his call to “Speak up” and he be allowed to draw his own
conclusions and act accordingly.

4. There has been no EEOC, OIG or Office of Special Counsel complaint filed regarding
this matter.

5. I will represent myself in this matter.

________________________
Signature Date

Attachments: Copy of emails related to this grievance.


ATTACHMENTS

From: Cefalu, Vincent A.


Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 9:51 AM
To: Ketels, Marianne C.
Subject:
 
Ms Ketels,
I was provided a copy of the following text. I ask that you forward it directly to Acting
Director Melson for his review. Hopefully these matters will be contained before they continue
to escalate to a level where the Bureaus reputation is further damaged. Please confirm that you in
fact forwarded it to the Director as I believe he would want to see this. As always, thanks for
your efforts. Vince

Talk is Cheap
By CUATF Webmaster on November 27, 2009 11:11 AM

Mr. Melson,

Your comments in the November issue of “Inside ATF” must be addressed because the
ideal does not match the real. We expected more of you than this type of demeaning
“instruction” to us.

ATF Agents have repeatedly sought constructive methods of direct and indirect
communications with you and your staff, only to be ignored nationwide. CleanupATF.org
is a direct result of ongoing dismissive and retaliatory conduct by your managers. We
have asked...formally, informally and ultimately, forcefully.

We have made every attempt to be heard and avert confrontation. However, you,
Ronnie, Billy and a vast majority of the GS-15s under your watch have shown nothing
but arrogance and disregard. Nationwide, respect for ATF leadership is at an all-time
low. It must be earned back. Actions speak louder than words and the road to hell is
paved with good intentions.

Your instruction to "keep the lines of communication open" requires you and
Headquarters to act decisively in good faith, because it is you that have betrayed our
trust and confidence, not the other way around. Lines of communication can’t be kept
open until and unless they are open in the first place.

You "don’t know what’s on our minds unless we tell you"? Seriously Mr. Melson, did
you write this? Please read the documents posted on this website and review those
you have received during your tenure. You have refused or ignored our requests
(individually and collectively) without bothering to respond in any way. Now, many of
the involved agents are joining a class action lawsuit that your attorneys and managers
necessitated by giving you filtered and inaccurate accounts of what is going on.

Please don’t tell us you didn’t know about this. Let the buck of 1,000 excuses stop at
Ronnie and Billy. You have been provided ample and significant information to support
the field's positions, including:

 Taking over 300 days to investigate EEOC complaints;


 An explosion of OIG and OSC complaints;
 Record settlements to cover the Bureau conduct that was endorsed and
encouraged by your Counsel’s Office;
 Whistle blower complaints aired month after month in the media;

This is not "our" ATF. Our ATF conducts business behind closed doors, presents a
unified public front, and does not eat its own. If you have learned anything during as
Acting Director, you now know that ATF Agents are not easily intimidated. To better
understand the consequences of blindly trusting managers who have elevated the
concealment of incompetence and unethical conduct to a high art form, talk to Director
Higgins. He also took his managers' words at face value and ass-umed that he was
being provided with the true picture.

To categorize attempts by the field to communicate with management as “elusive” is a


pure insult. It is your executives and managers that meet attempts to discuss problems
with reprimands, reprisals, hostile work environments, threats, transfers and
terminations. Do you really think that all these grievances, EEO complaints and
lawsuits occur in a vacuum, without repeated attempts by the aggrieved employees to
first communicate and resolve the problems informally? On the contrary, rather than
being honestly and fairly addressed at the lowest possible level, even totally legitimate
complaints usually morph into costly litigation because you and your staff refuse to hear
anything that doesn't fit into your tidy little "template".

The reports that you receive regarding these field situations are filtered and sugar-
coated through so many layers of self-protecting censors (management, counsel,
ELRB, etc.) that by the time it hits your radar, is so distorted that it bears little or no
resemblance to the truth. How many of the pending disputes against ATF have you
personally looked into, beyond your "These people are just a bunch of non-team player
malcontents" briefings from Ronnie, Billy or Chief Counsel?

The burden of establishing effective communications lies with and you and your
executives. You have thrown down the challenge but offered no method or means of
accomplishment. Accountability cannot be a one-way street. We have made
suggestions, asked for direct meetings, suggested a working group comprised of field
personnel chosen by their peers, rather than HQ. You have no doubt been counseled
against meeting with “a bunch of misfits and whiners”, but if you take a closer look, most
of the people demanding change and a voice are some of the most decorated,
productive and loyal Agents this great agency has ever produced.
You said that “all voices need to be heard”, but now what? Talk is cheap, so why don’t
you get effectively engaged and make a concerted effort to evaluate the real reasons
that all these disputes have risen to such acrimonious and costly and levels?

Some great ways to demonstrate genuine good-faith would include:

 Respond to CleanupATF.org with an open letter addressing our skepticism


openly and without the distorting input of Counsel or your Executive staff.
 Enact a working group (as a collateral duty) of field Agents, Investigators and
clerical staff to provide current operational input regarding the Bureau’s strategic
plans.
 For a separate working group comprised of field personnel selected by their
peers to review pending employee disputes and recommended appropriate
courses of action consistent with the Bureau’s policies and the principles of fair,
good faith problem resolution.
 Aggressively seek effective methods for instilling a new corporate and
management culture under which intimidation, harassment, retaliation, scorn for
established complaint resolution procedures, false testimony, concealment or
destruction of evidence, and a climate of fear are not acceptable methods of
“leadership”.
 Discipline or remove executives or managers who engage in unethical or
incompetent conduct, rather than promoting, transferring or retiring them with
“honors”. Fire and prosecute those that knowingly break the law by lying under
oath or otherwise hurting their subordinates to protect or further their own selfish
interests.
 Order and fully support a thorough investigation of allegations regarding
widespread and ongoing unethical and potentially unlawful conduct on the part of
key officials within your Chief Counsel’s Office. This investigation should be
conducted by an impartial third-party, to avoid even the appearance of
impropriety, and the findings, no matter how unpleasant, should be accepted by
top management and proactively addressed. This would almost certainly result
in the removal of certain officials that have repeatedly engaged in a pattern of
unethical and abusive conduct.

Much damage has been done, but this is a resilient Agency. Step up to the plate, Mr.
Melson and take a committed swing.
Who is the appropriate individual?

From: Ketels, Marianne C.


Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:22 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Subject:
 
Vince,

I have forwarded your request to the appropriate individual.

Marianne

From: Cunningham, Marceita


Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:00 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Cc: Loos, Eleaner R.; Ketels, Marianne C.
Subject: RE:
 
Mr. Cefalu,

Ms. Ketels is aware of your email.

From: Cefalu, Vincent A.


Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 1:02 PM
To: Cunningham, Marceita
Subject: FW:
 
Ms. Cunningham,
Perhaps you could facilitate this request since Ms. Ketels is out of the office. Based on the
Directors comments in this months Inside ATF, I believe he would like to be apprised ASAP. If
you prefer I forward it directly, please advise. Thank you, Vince

Then you should have communicated that to ME. Chain of command question? Who do you
report to? What situation? There was NO situation. I had a request that you could either facilitate
or not. You chose to act in an adversarial manner. Vince

From: Ketels, Marianne C.


Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 10:42 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Subject:
 
Not at all, Vince. The Ombudsman process is informal so the situation is beyond my scope now.

From: Cefalu, Vincent A.


Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 12:03 PM
To: Ketels, Marianne C.
Subject: RE:
 
For what purpose? Has your office abandoned its neutral and confidential status? Who does the
Ombudsman report to Directly? First line Supervisor? Thanks Vince

From: Ketels, Marianne C.


Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 4:38 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Subject: FW:
 
Vince,

I have forwarded to Office of Chief Counsel.

Marianne

Marianne Ketels
ATF Ombudsman
202-648-7412
marianne.ketels@atf.gov  

I have requested of Marianne Ketels (the Bureaus Ombudsman) who she reports to as next in her
chain of command and have received no response. Could you confirm through your sources, be it
Jeff or whoever, who is in her chain of command please? Sorry but am wanting to strictly follow
the chain of command. Vince

Is there something particularly classified regarding the organizational structure or chain of


command regarding the Ombuds Office? I think a simple respectful and appropriate question
deserves a response. Does the ATF Ombudsman report directly to Acting Director Melson? If
you do not know, could you please direct me to the person who does know? Thanks Vince

Vince,

The Ombudsman reports directly to the deputy director.

Marianne